"Athenian": The Greek restaurant in Britain that broke all records during the lockdown period

The owner, Efthymis Vasilakis talks to newsbeast.gr about their own success story

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"Luck favors the brave," they say, and many agree. Still others may not fully agree. Because here we are talking about, maybe luck alone, is not enough to achieve your dreams, even the craziest. You first need confidence in your plans, confidence that you will succeed, plan and most importantly, you do not need to be afraid.

Especially, the last one, fear, is a bad advisor in any of your future plans, especially professionally. This, after all, emphasizes and advises young people, o Efthymis Vasilakisμη not to be afraid! A young man himself, who sees his own success story taking on flesh and blood on England.

Ο Efthymis Vasilakis and Neophytos Christodoulou are located behind the restaurant "The Athenian", which recently was named "Best Restaurant of the Year" in the United Kingdom, as part of the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards. This Greek restaurant has made the English eat souvlaki in recent years and the British press often refers to it in flattering words.

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The Newsbeast.gr spoke with his Athenian "AthenianEfthymi Vasilakis about his own business trip to England that started from a kiosk in an open-air market in north London. And now it counts restaurants in various parts of the country, except London, such as Bristol, Brighton, Manchester, Cambridge, etc.

- When and how did your whole project start and how did you get the idea to open a steak house in London?

It started at a small flea market in north London. It was a small kiosk that then had only 3 menu options. I started with 3.000. XNUMX, which were all my savings then. I remember that day it was raining and it was bitterly cold, however people came and tried our skewer.

- Why did you choose "Athenian" for the name and owl as a brand?

I was born and raised in Athens, hence the name. The owl is the protector of Athens, and is always depicted next to the view of Athena, whenever the two are interconnected. If you look closely at the one euro coin on the back it has a glaucoma that has its roots in the coins of ancient Athens.

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- The fact that the British come to Greece for holidays and know the souvlaki, did it play a role in the response that your business move has received?

Not particularly. Most customers, especially in the beginning, did not know what it was. We had to build it all from scratch.

- How easy is it to start a business in England, even when you are not from the country?

I have not started a business in Greece whenever I do not have a comparison measure. The standard procedure is simple and done online. Then in the restaurant he has a close health control that if someone does not follow the rules they have the power to "close" him.

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- When you started six years ago, did you imagine that you would be able to create a chain of stores? And in fact in a country that is famous for its multiculturalism and cuisine?

From the first month the demand for souvlaki It was so big for us that yes, it seemed to be going there with the right management and the right steps. Starting a business, especially in food, is one of the most difficult ventures and many who tried to imitate us did not succeed.

- Recently, "The Athenian" was awarded as the best restaurant in Britain. What makes your skewer stand out? Is there a recipe for your success?

I think it is a combination of things. A few days before the award I had a meeting with Deliveroo (the food delivery platform), where they showed me how we went this year. The results were unheard of, in a country with lockdown and travel restrictions, we had broken all records, had no other partner on the platform that has the same evolution. Where everyone else was closed indefinitely, we not only stayed open but opened new kitchens for delivery. We donated meals to the national health system and gave weekly packages of essentials to our team at a time when supermarket shelves were empty. Plus we have built a brand in the last five years whose history has had a tremendous impact.

- Where do you get the raw materials from?

Most of the independent Greek producers.

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- Are your customers more Greeks living there or English?

Mainly English and international.

- How do you as a business deal with the pandemic crisis and how much has it affected you?

We saw it as an opportunity to redefine ourselves and find solutions.

- Is there any support from the British government for coronavirus operations now? What measures have been taken?

It exists and has helped us, but I do not think it is enough for a catering business to survive in these conditions.

- Apart from the financial part, do you think that the pandemic will change our life in general and our behavior in general? Focus, for example, how do you think it will enter a new, different phase?

We humans are creatures of habit. They say it takes 21 days to start a new habit. So surely without even realizing it our habits have already changed, and some will remain even when all this is over.

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Efthymis Vasilakis spoke to Newsbeast.gr about his own success story in the demanding market of England

- Are you thinking of opening an Athenian in Greece as well? Or are you scared of the idea of ​​doing business in the country?

Not for now. We prefer to be representatives of the new Greece abroad.

- Do you feel that at the moment you are ambassadors of Greek cuisine abroad? Does this idea make you feel like you are carrying a "heavy" obligation?

From the beginning one of the main reasons I started Athenian, was to communicate the new Greece with people abroad through my own eyes, and not through inaccuracies and stereotypes.

- What message would you like to send to young children who have plans and dreams, but are reluctant to pursue them?

Νa do not be afraid. Fear is the worst deterrent. If we had been scared this year, not only would we not have won an award, but we might not have survived this year financially. Of course it is not that simple. Fear and instability have the power to paralyze us. One thing is for sure. From the economic crisis onwards we live in times where instability is now the only stability. So we have to adapt and coexist with it. There is no choice. But in the end this may not be a bad thing, because doing what we call reinvent yourself in English does you good in the end, and gets you ahead.